Exhibitions to enjoy in Liverpool during 2023
Liverpool is blessed to have a wide range of galleries showcasing exciting, provocative and intriguing works in a variety of different media.
From paintings at the Walker and Tate Liverpool to photography at the waterfront Open Eye Gallery, digital media at FACT to historic artefacts at the World Museum and fascinating installations and displays at the Bluecoat, there’s something to interest everyone from a casual visitor to those passionate about the visual arts.
And the major galleries and venues are also complemented by dozens of smaller independent gallery spaces, both within the city centre and further afield throughout the city.
There’s an extensive annual programme of exhibitions and related events, and 2023 is no exception with fascinating and unmissable shows planned as well as a return for the Liverpool Biennial – the UK’s largest free festival of contemporary visual art.
Here’s some of what you can see where over the next 12 months.
Continuing from 2022….
Refractive Pool - Walker Art Gallery (until January 8), The Liverpool Collection – dot-art gallery (until January 28), Inspired by Lady Lever – Lady Lever Art Gallery (until January 29), Breathe, spirit, life – Bluecoat (until January 29), Unstructured Icons by Yinka Shonibare – Victoria Gallery & Museum (until February 25), Pure Brilliance: The Boodles Story - Lady Lever Art Gallery (untl March 5), Art of the Terraces - Walker Art Gallery (until March 12), Turner Prize – Tate Liverpool (until March 19), Quiet Observations: Artists and their Abodes – VG&M (until April), Erin Dickson – FACT (until April 6), April Lin – FACT (until April 6), Danielle Braithwaite-Shirley and Josefa Ntjam – FACT (until April 9), Canditz Breitz – Tate Liverpool (until May 14), JMW Turner with Lamin Fofana – Tate Liverpool (until June 4).
And new for 2023:
Katheryn Maple – Walker Art Gallery
February 11-April 30
John Moores Painting Prize 2020 winner Kathryn Maple presents an exhibition of work at the Walker Art Gallery ahead of this year’s competition.
Under The Hot Sun is Maple’s first solo show and will feature a selection of drawings and oil paintings which explore her ongoing themes of figures in familiar urban and rural spaces.
Maple’s work The Common won her the £25,000 first prize in the prestigious painting competition and is now in the Walker’s permanent collection.
Flower Fairies – Lady Lever Art Gallery
April 15-November 5
The Lady Lever Art Gallery at Port Sunlight is part of the wider National Museums Liverpool.
This enchanting new exhibition features 45 original illustrations from Cicely Mary Barker’s books which were first published in 1923.
The illustrations come from the Warne Archive and the show promises to immerse visitors in Barker’s fairy world, exploring the inspiration behind the images and also the flora and fauna featured in them through NML’s own botanical collections.
Return of the Gods – World Museum
April 28-February 25, 2024
Return of the Gods: Zeus, Athena, Hercules – to give it its full title - invites visitors to enter the world of Greek and Roman deities, told through the words of ancient poets and writers and featuring a stunning collection of sculptures and antiquities from the World Museum collection.
Follow the adventures of birth, love and rivalry of the Olympian Gods and enter the gates of the Underworld in a theatrical display featuring the three-headed dog Cerberus, guardian of the gates to Hades.
Photie Man: 50 Years of Tom Wood – Walker Art Gallery
May 20-January 7, 2024
This major new photographic exhibition will showcase a comprehensive survey of work of the acclaimed Irish artist stretching back over half a century, displayed chronologically and for the first time here in Liverpool.
Many of the images were taken in the city where Wood, dubbed the ‘photieman’ created an intimate, diverse and knowing portrait of the city and the surrounding area, capturing a definitive phase in the social and political history of the area.
Liverpool Biennial – various venues
June 10-September 17
Liverpool Biennial returns for 2023 with a three-month programme of exhibitions and shows at arts venues across the city centre – and in some more unusual spaces as well.
Tate Liverpool, Bluecoat, Open Eye Gallery and FACT are among the venues.
The three-month event, the UK’s largest free festival of contemporary visual art, will have the theme uMoya: The Sacred Return of Lost Things.
More than 30 national and international artists and collectives will take part, including Albert Ibokwe Khoza, Brook Andrew, Eleng Luluan, Julien Creuzet and Raisa Kabir.
Happiness! – Museum of Liverpool
July 14-March 3 2024
The waterfront venue is celebrating the late Sir Ken Dodd in an exhibition charting his life and long career, along with his connections to today’s comedy stars.
An exhibition filled with fun and humour, and using memorabilia from Doddy’s own personal archive, the show will explore his career, the science of comedy, and also how his comedic approach continues to be used and adopted by some of the UK’s most well-known and emerging comedians.
John Moores Painting Prize – Walker Art Gallery
September 16-February 2, 2024
The prestigious John Moores Painting Prize returns to the Walker for a four-and-a-half month show over the autumn and winter.
The competition has been held now for more than 65 years and previous prizewinners have included David Hockney, Peter Doig, Rose Wylie and Peter Blake – who won the junior section in 1961 with his painting Self Portrait with Badges.
The winner receives £25,000, with runners up prizes, and there is also a ‘visitors’ choice’ award voted for by the public.
And at venues outside Liverpool:
A Leisurely Stroll Along Southport’s Seafront – The Atkinson
January 14-March 14
Stroll along Southport’s beautiful promenade and explore the history of the town’s seafront through a collection of works including original watercolours and ephemera from the Victorian period.
The show at The Atkinson in Lord Street will also feature recently restored plans for Southport’s Victorian pier which was opened in 1860.
Michael Brennand-Wood: The Encirclement of Space – Williamson Art Gallery
January 18-March 18
This new exhibition launching the 2023 programme at the Williamson Art Gallery in Birkenhead charts the influence of lace on Brennand-Wood’s practice, from the earliest examples made as a student in the 1970s to his most recent commission.
The exhibition contains the largest collection of his lace works ever shown together, representing all stages of his research and including some very large-scale pieces and a wide range of media including paper, thread, metal, mosaic and wax.
The Sefton Open – The Atkinson
April 1-May 13
The annual exhibition, being staged at The Atkinson in Southport, celebrates the creativity and artistic talent which can be found throughout the Sefton borough.
It features works – including painting, print, ceramics, photography and textiles - from individual artists and local groups and which are selected by the Southport Palette Club.
Visitors are encouraged to vote for their favourite artwork in The People’s Prize, and can also buy works on show.
Apollo Remastered – Williamson Art Gallery
April 29-September 2
The original NASA photographic film from its Apollo missions is some of the most important and valuable film in existence and is stored in a frozen vault at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Apollo Remastered will showcase images from Andy Saunders’ book of the same name which includes high-definition photographic copies achieved through painstaking care ad cutting edge enhancement techniques.